Tokyo Olympics: NZ team fully committed to COVID-plagued Games 100 days out

One hundred days out from their delayed start, the NZ Olympic Committee is taking an 'all-in' approach to the troubled Tokyo Olympics.

Originally scheduled for July-August 2020, the Games were postponed for 12 months, when the COVID-19 pandemic suspended sport across the world.

With the start-line now in sight, the Olympics are still polarising public opinion, with a recent survey suggesting most Japanese would rather they not take place, as the nation grapples with the early rounds of coronavirus vaccinations.

But NZOC boss Kereyn Smith insists Kiwi athletes have not wavered in their commitment to the Games and staff will begin its relocation to the Games Village this week.

"We're certainly optimistic that the Games are proceeding and we're full steam ahead, with 100 days to go, which - for athletes - is hugely significant," she has told The AM Show.

Organisers have cut back drastically on much of the pomp and ceremony associated with the Olympics, with overseas spectators banned from attending and strict COVID-19 protocols imposed on athletes.

Smith has told The AM Show that the biggest challenge facing NZ team members may be adapting from our relatively virus-free lifestyle to the tough restrictions still enforced around the rest of the world. 

"There are quite a number from overseas in sports like football, golf and tennis, but some of those events continue to go on," says Smith.

"Arguably, some of the overseas athletes coming into Tokyo will be better prepared for the environment and conditions expected of them than athletes from New Zealand." 

Through all this, the NZOC faces a delicate balancing act between optimising athlete performance, and ensuring their health and safety.

"We're working really hard to quantify what measures we need to take," says Smith. "We're asking a lot of individual people around their own protocols.

"We've all seen the Olympics on TV, but this won't look like that. Athletes on the field of play will look much the same, although off the field of play, you'll see masks 24/7 and social distancing.

"We're very fortunate that most of our athletes based here in New Zealand will have been vaccinated before they go, which will be a huge bonus for them." 

Access to the Games Village will be even more limited than usual, with athletes staying only as long as they need around competition schedules.

Smith is still unclear whether medal ceremonies will take place, although indications are that 'iconic things' will not change.

No bailout deadline has been set for the Games to be postponed again or cancelled.

"We're going until we're not going," says Smith. "The athletes are being selected - there are more selected this week and next week - our three tonne of freight leaves this week... 21,000 pieces of uniform.

"I don't see any evidence of [cancellation] right now, but in a global pandemic, anything's possible."